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Micro assembled Terabit/s capable optical transceivers for Datacom applications

Project description

Micro assembled optical transceivers for data centre applications

Today's data centres, which underpin software such as cloud computing, artificial intelligence and machine learning, rely on optical transceivers to move information between servers. Hundreds of thousands of such transceivers are installed yearly. Despite this being a mass market, assembly of electronics and optics into a transceiver is still a step-by-step process, which makes it difficult to increase throughput and drive down cost. The EU-funded Caladan project is harnessing micro-transfer printing technology to move from sequential assembly to a manufacturing process in which thousands of transceivers are assembled in one parallel step. In addition, novel vision and robotic based assembly systems are being developed to automate fibre attachment to drive down assembly time and cost.


Data centers which underpin the Cloud are under pressure. As the capacity of data center servers is growing, so must the capacity of the links between those servers. Industry foresees a need for high volumes of 800Gb/s and 1.6Tb/s transceivers by 2025.
Today, despite the use of complex Photonic Integrated Circuits (PICs), manufacturing an optical transceiver still requires a large number of sequential steps. This is because lasers and electronic chips need to be assembled on a piece-by-piece basis onto the PIC. The resulting optical engine then needs to be coupled to a fiber array and packaged. These steps are done sequentially, creating a bottleneck in the manufacturing line which makes it hard to scale up production and reduce cost.
CALADAN will demonstrate how integration of lasers and electronics onto a PIC can be done fully at the wafer-level using the established micro transfer printing technique, thus eliminating this bottleneck. GaAs quantum dot lasers and 130nm SiGe BiCMOS 56Gbaud capable driver and receiver electronics will be transfer printed onto Silicon Photonic 300mm wafers. Starting from proven concepts in PIXAPP, a novel fast fiber attachment process will be demonstrated that reduces the time required for fiber attachment by an order of magnitude. Using these techniques, transceiver cost will be 0.1Euro/Gb/s for volumes of at least 1,000,000 units.
The consortium, which consists of three SMEs (X-Celeprint, Innolume and ficonTEC), an LE (EVGroup), three research institutes (IMEC, Tyndall and IHP), a transceiver manufacturer (Mellanox) and a multinational (Xilinx) encompasses all the partners to start production of the targeted optical transceivers after the end of the project. Exploitation of the technology will be supported by an end-user (British Telecom), a semiconductor foundry setting up a micro transfer printing Pilot Line (MICROPRINCE, X-FAB), an optical equipment manufacturer (ADVA) and the European Photonic Industry Consortium (EPIC).

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Net EU contribution
€ 2 547 368,75
3001 Leuven

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Vlaams Gewest Prov. Vlaams-Brabant Arr. Leuven
Activity type
Research Organisations
Total cost
€ 2 547 368,75

Participants (9)